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Bust this myth: Pet insurance companies will decide the medical care practices offer.

A recent survey of veterinary teams revealed the common myths team members believe about pet insurance. In the second part of this three-part series, we explore the second-most commonly mentioned myth about pet insurance: Pet insurance companies will decide the medical care practices offer.

Myth: If insurance is widely adopted, pet insurance companies will control the way our clinic practices veterinary medicine.

Fact: Pet insurance won't control how you practice medicine. After all, you might not even know whether the pet owner has insurance until they pay the bill and ask you for a diagnosis for their pet insurance reimbursement form, says Dr. Amanda Donnelly, owner of ALD Veterinary Consulting.

“I had a very good experience with pet insurance, and I saw firsthand how it saved a dog's life,” says Dr. Jessica Downing, co-owner of Valley Cottage Animal Hospital in Valley Cottage, N.Y. “And I know without the insurance, the dog would not have survived. The owners wouldn't have been able to afford care for the dog. It has a disease that will be a chronic issue, and she needs to be on medication all the time and she needs her bloodwork evaluated monthly.”

Dr. Downing says she's seen pet insurance work for both wellness visits, where pet owners choose policies that cover the pet's visits and vaccinations, and in cases of emergencies and serious illness.

“I tell clients to buy the best package they can afford to cover early vaccines and that spay or neuter for the first year,” Dr. Downing says. “I doubt that veterinary medicine is going to become less expensive anytime soon. Prices will go up, like everything else, and people want to do the best for their pets.”

One of the hardest things about being a veterinarian, she says, is telling people their pets are sick and then watching them be torn with indecision.

“Every day, people say to me, ‘I know this is going to be a horrible thing to ask, but how much is this going to cost?' Because it plays a huge role in how this patient is going to be treated-whether the patient is going to be treated on a home basis, whether that patient can be hospitalized, whether that patient can be taken to surgery, or whether it has to be euthanized,” Dr. Downing says. “Sadly, a lot of times it comes down to a dollar amount. So the insurance gives more options.”


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